Rafa Benitez addresses fan criticism of his Newcastle team

Rafa Benitez says there's NO panic at Newcastle United after the club lost top spot in the Championship.

Friday, 6th January 2017, 9:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 2:49 am
Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez. Picture by Frank Reid

Benitez’s side trail league leaders Brighton and Hove Albion by two points after losing two of their last three games.

Newcastle take a break from the league tomorrow with an FA Cup third round tie against Birmingham City.

Benitez is confident his team can quickly put Monday’s frustrating defeat to Blackburn Rovers behind them at St Andrew’s ahead of a Championship fixture against Brentford on Monday week.

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And United’s manager is adamant that he has NOT been concerned with recent performances, with the exception of the poor showing against Sheffield Wednesday in the 1-0 defeat at St James’s Park on Boxing Day.

“From day one, we have done lots of things, and everybody was very happy was that,” said Benitez.

“We have to keep doing that, because obviously we have been good.

“You can criticise the results, yes, but look at the performances. That is the main thing. If we are doing things properly then eventually we will win more games than we lose.”

Supporters feel Newcastle lack creativity without suspended midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, who still has two games of his five-match ban to serve.

Asked about the reaction to the Blackburn defeat, Benitez added: “The Championship is very difficult.

“How difficult is it to get promoted? How difficult is it to go down and then come up again in the first year?

“You see the other teams that were relegated. I think we are in a very good position.

“Brighton are doing fantastic. But how much money have they spent in the last few years?

“How many times have they been in the play-offs? Do they have experience in this league? Yes.

“We are doing really well for a team that has been relegated and needs to change a lot of things like the mentality and a lot of things in the way we do business.

“We are fine. Still we are only halfway through the season, and I think we will get better.

“We have experience and we know how difficult the Championship is and we have to do the right things every single game.

“We know they way. And we will do it.”

Meanwhile, forward Ayoze Perez will miss the Birmingham cup tie with a calf injury.

Benitez said: “We are quite good in terms of injuries. Ayoze has a problem in his calf, but it isn’t serious and we don’t want to take any risks.

“We have plenty of solutions.”